Its a common MIS-conception that working on flexibility – aka: Doing Yoga – will detract from strength training.  In my Yoga classes, strength and flexibility are twins.  (Not so much in the typical ‘gym yoga’ or ‘gentle yoga’ classes commonly passed off as ‘real yoga’.)

As a true Yogi – balanced between the mystic and the warrior – I know full well that flexibility IS strength, and strength IS flexibility.  One simply cannot exist without the other.

Those who do strength training – weightlifters, bodybuilders, Olympic lifters, strongman sports – must work on flexibility after lifting.  This is the best time to increase flexibility .. when the muscles are fatigued.  In fact, YogaWOD after lifting will promote muscle growth while decreasing post-exercise soreness.

You see, after lifting, the muscles tighten or shorten; and its this tightening that makes the muscle look ‘pumped up’.  However, this pumped look shortens ROM (Range of Motion), so without deep stretching and flexing exercises afterwards, the ROM stays shortened.  And no one who strength trains want to decreased ROM.

Mind you, just because a stretched out muscle looks smaller, that doesn’t mean it is.  It simply means the muscle is not bulging, but is ‘smoother’ and so capable of a greater ROM.

Next comes the connective tissue, which is damaged during strength training.  One of the reasons for resting between body sets is to allow the connective tissue to recover.  Akin to muscle, connective tissue also shortens .. which again makes YogaWOD after training critical to your overall workout.

Why do I teach strength in my Yoga classes?  Because its traditional, that’s why.

Yoga was not meant to turn us into human pretzels.  Those crazy Yoga poses we all see in coffee-table books are just that .. CRAZY.  All they are is what ONE person can do; they were never intended to be done by all practitioners of Yoga.  Nor is this new or ‘controversial’, for there are several Traditional Hatha Yoga texts – which are hundreds of years old – that relate the same thing.  Honestly, my Yoga ‘teachers’ need to crack the books.

When it comes to Yoga, strength training is a must.  Without it, one risks injury through over-stretching.  And just like in strength training, flexibility comes AFTER.

In my classes, I have the class do several warmup asanas (poses) to prep the body for the strength asanas.  Once done, I have them do the complimentary stretching asanas for the muscles and connective tissue just employed.  Its a win-win combination.  My Yoga students rock some serious asanas with grace, strength, control, mobility and confidence.  I teach them how to work WITH their body, instead of fighting against it.

So there it is!  If you not adding Yoga flexibility to your strength training, then your cheating yourself.  And if your not doing the body weight/strength asanas in your Yoga practice, then you are unbalanced – and we all know the importance of balance in Yoga!

Live Deliberately!

Yogini Valarie


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